Bid is on track but more is needed

Brighouse train station.
Brighouse train station.

A rail campaign group has called for more improvements along the Brighouse line with faster journeys and improved links to Calderdale and Huddersfield.

Stephen Waring, Chairman of The Halifax and District Rail Action Group, has welcomed news that the company taking over Northern train services next year will have to provide brand new trains to replace the Pacer units and upgrade services on the Calder Valley line.

The bidders can and must deliver extras. We want them to be enterprising and fill the gaps. - HADRAG chairman Stephen Waring

But HADRAG will be asking the companies bidding for the franchise to fill in the gaps left in the Government specification, particularly to get a better service for Brighouse.

Mr Waring said more services are needed on weekends in Brighouse.

“If you look at road traffic in our part of the world it often seems worse on a Sunday morning than a Saturday morning – evidence that better public transport is needed on Sundays. An obvious proposal would be to extend the current Manchester-Leeds service via Brighouse to operate on Sundays so people have a direct service to both cities seven days a week,” he said.

“This would also double the Sunday service at all stations along the Calder Valley.

“And we know there is demand throughout the week for better links between Calderdale stations and Huddersfield, an important regional centre with the university and onward train connections on the Transpennine Express route.

“The bidders can and must deliver extras. We want them to be enterprising and fill the gaps.”

Leader of the Calderdale Labour group, Coun Tim Swift also welcomed the news.

“The successful train operators will also be required to make major improvements to the rolling stock, with some new and modern trains and a requirement to refurbish the remaining rolling stock.

“Pacers will have to be taken out of use by 2020, and Labour Transport chair James Lewis was absolutely clear that we will not be having old tube trains tarted up and riding around the rails of Northern England,” he said.

The companies shortlisted by the Department of Transport for the Northern train operating franchise are Abellio Northern Ltd, Arriva Rail North Ltd and Govia Northern Ltd (Go-Ahead and Keolis).